Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Blogging Resumes

Now blogging at high speed and from openSUSE 10.1.

Aren't you lucky?

Monday, May 22, 2006

My Computer Woes

The three week saga goes like this...

It started with my soundcard, which I still haven't resolved yet. I'm trying to see if I can get a new I/O card (or get it fixed) for my Soundblaster Audigy 2 Platinum. The soundcard itself is fine, but the I/O or "drive bay" card is fried (took me a week to figure that out). The reason I want to get the I/O card replaced or fixed is because this soundcard is widely supported by Linux--what I want to use to make music once Linux progresses further--and most of the other brands are not so widely supported.

Then WinXP died badly. I was stuck using my backup windows98 partition. Tried resizing the win98 partition using Partition Magic, but it wouldn't work, kept giving me errors. I would go online, figure out what the error was, fix the error, then try to resize again and I would get a new error. This happened for a few days and for several errors until I finally got it to work.

Then I tried to install XP several times and it wouldn't boot right. Then win98 got totally corrupted so I had to reinstall the entire system. I decided to leave 98 behind and dual boot WinXP (which I still need for music) and Linux. After a few days, after getting internet on XP, a worm or virus destroyed it, so I had to recover a previous working boot and reinstall my software all over again.

Then I tried to download openSUSE linux 10.1 to my laptop on my friend's cable, but everyone in the world is downloading it right now, so it took an entire day to get it.

Because I don't have a DVD burner on my laptop and I don't want to mess with the 6 CDs of openSUSE, I got a program that turns the 6 CDs into DVDs. But I need linux to do it. I thought I could use my Knoppix live CD on my desktop (which has a DVD writer) to do it, but realized I couldn't because Knoppix Live doesn't have write capabilities. After finding an abandoned computer on the street, I tore out its 15 GB hard drive, put it in my desktop, installed Vector Linux on it, transfered the 6 CDs to it, and tried to turn the 6 CDs into one DVD. But lo and behold, I need a few more programs that Vector Linux doesn't have in order to do so. I gave up and started burning the ISOs to CD--and ran out of CDs.

So today I'm going to buy some more blank CDs, finish burning the ISOs, install SUSE, and make sure the Linux GRUB boots both Windows XP and openSUSE. Tomorrow, I'll try updating XP before the worm/virus gets me again with the help of PC-Cillin and Windows firewall.

Then I need to find out if Netzero works in Wine under openSUSE. If not, I need to find another way to get online in linux.

Finally, I'll have to download a few licensed codecs to linux and makes sure everything is working.

By the end of the week, hopefully, all this will be done and I'll have a working computer, an internet connection, updated Operating Systems, and free time at last.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

slaveofone v. Metacrock 2

Continued from slaveofone v. Metacrock
Meta: Sense of the Numinous choose the Bible/scholarship board

Thanks for the link, I'll check it out when I have more time.

Meta: You are clearly ignorant of the traditions you pretend to defend.Rabbi Heliel was told by a pagan that if he coudl recite all the Troah while standing on one leg he would convert. He stood on one leg and said "do not do to others what you would hate to be done to yourself." He then said, "taht is Troah, the rest is commentary." you know so little and you gett so angry becasue beileve differently than you.

As for "getting angry" or getting "so" angry, I have not once been angry either at you or at the subject matter. I am simply carrying on a discussion/argument against propositions that are antithetical to Christianity and are objectionable historically and objectionable to decency. (Plus they make fairly interesting and provocative blog entries, don't you think?) To call another person emotional or ignorant instead of responding to the logical objections raised by them is another logical fallacy called ad hominem.

It may benefit you to know that I am not defending Rabbinic tradition whatsoever. In fact, I am arguing against it. Rabbinic Judaism is heavily influenced by a radically different historical context than first century Judaism so that the two cannot be confused with each other. Rabbinic Judaism and first century Judaism are two very different Judaisms indeed.

It appears that you have not understood this because you have argued based on Rabbinic tradition in later centuries that Jews were a certain way in the first century. This is committing historical anachronism--it is like saying because people in the United States in the 21st Century think of a federal government as a "national" government that the founding fathers thought of a "federal government" in this way also. But as any early 19th Century Webster's Dictionary will tell you, "federal" did not mean national, it meant a "confederacy of independent and separate states".

You accused me of not understanding Hellenistic influences on the first century culture and texts. I now accuse you of not understanding the second century influences of Rabbinic tradition on the history of first century Judaism.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

slaveofone v. Metacrock

Since comments are not the place to get into lengthy discussions or arguments, I thought I would post my responses here instead.

In the blog subject "Must Christians Keep the Law?", Metacrock argues for a Yeshua who was a Greek Philosopher, a Paul who urged his people to take up and follow Greek concepts of morality, and a Christianity based on following a spiritual aspect of the Law instead of the letter. I responded in the comment section. Metacrock responded. You can read those here. The following is my second response:
Meta: Really? So Paul was not a first century Jew?

Yes, really. Which is why Paul, being a first century Jew, didn't appeal to a higher morality attained through following a spiritual law that has replaced following the letter.

Meta: That's a very irresponsible argument since most modern scholars argue that the early layer of Q source is cynical/stoic in nature.

From where I'm standing, it is irresponsible to use the "most scholars say" argument (otherwise known as argumentum ad populum), because it is fallacious. Just because "most scholars" argue something it does not therefore follow that something is true.

Meta: They further argument (as per Helmutt Kosester) that Greek cynical thought was so popular among first century Jews that it could be found all over Palestine and the Diaspora (see my Doherty paper when I am reading to link it up).

Whether or not Cynicism and Stoicism were prevalent in First Century Palestine tells us nothing about whether or not Yeshua could be considered one of them. I wasn't speaking about the characteristic of a country, I was speaking about the characteristic of Yeshua. In logic, this fallacy is called a straw man.

Meta: I think you are not mindful of the text of hellinistic influnces.

I prefer to see what Hellenistic influence the texts themselves show me instead of forming my opinions about that influence based on how Hellenism influenced the general culture or by basing my opinions on the Modern belief that "most scholars" agree with.

Meta: I know of no injunction in the OT to be honorable in keeping the law. The shame/honor thing wasn't part of it. Guilt and peace have a lot more to do with it. That's certainly the way it look in Paul's world.

The shame and honor culture didn't come from the OT, it's comes from the culture in which the OT existed. Paul did not follow a higher Hellenistic morality based on universals and neither did Yeshua, nor did they teach us to attain to a higher internalized spiritual morality.

Meta: You could accuse me of being Pauline, that's ok with me. I would accept that.

I wouldn't call you Pauline because you are horribly distorting Paul with a Modernism and a Hellenism absent from him.

Meta: You yourself identified "My Jesus" as a Greek Cynical philosopher. Now where do you get off calling that "modern?" Seems like a contradiction to me.

I "get off" calling your Jesus Modern because the belief that Yeshua was a Greek Cynic, Stoic, or Wisdom/Morality Teacher is what "most modern scholars" (your own words) believe and who are to thank for the common acceptance of that belief (as you yourself witness by appealing to them). Doesn't seem like a contradiction to me.

Meta: So you are saying Christians follow Jesus? O no, how dreadful. I would never have thought of that.

Whatever that means.

What I am saying is the higher spiritual morality you espouse is not an aspect of either Christianity, Paul, or Yeshua. And that, in fact, it is degrading to most cultures in the ancient world (including Judaism) because it makes their "letter keeping morality" lower than our "inner spiritual keeping morality". It is a bigoted thing to say. And Paul never said it.

Meta: Well excuse me for putting up Jesus up on a pedestal.He's only the incornate logos. Where does he get off thinking he's the Messiah! Wow the nerve of us Christians, having our own faith and everything!

? I really don't understand what you meant to communicate with this.

Perhaps it would benefit you to know that I consider myself a Christian also and that I am not an anti-Christian or a leftist going around saying Christian have some kind of nerve for believing Christ is the Messiah or that Christ is incarnate... It may benefit you to know that I believe these things also and that I also put him up on a pedestal.

Meta: I'm not concerned with non Christian theology, I'm concerned with Christian theology.

Then perhaps you should be concerned with changing your non-Christian theology.

You recommend something for me to read so I recommend you read N.T. Wright's Christian Origins and the Question of God series (particularly "Jesus and the Victory of God"), which deal with Q, Cynicism, Stoicism, Paul, and Yeshua and argues quite compellingly that there is little or no Cynic in Yeshua and to what extent Hellenism does and does not influence the texts--contrary to popular Modern belief.

It is because of the veracity of Wright's arguments and evidences that I believe Yeshua is no Cynic or Stoic or Greek Philosopher, that Christianity is not about following the higher spiritual aspect of law instead of its letter, and that Paul in no way recommended this. It is not due to my lack of knowledge about the influence of Hellenistic culture or what "most scholars think". I am aware of the influence and their arguments and Wright has destroyed them.

Ossuary Inscription Authentic!

I know. I'm as skeptical as anyone else. Until today, I didn't believe it. And even now with what seems to be overwhelming evidence for the authenticity of the "James brother of Jesus" inscription, it is still hard to believe. According to the latest research done by one of the world's top experts in the field, the inscription is as authentic as the ossuary itself, which is not doubted to be an authentic first century ossuary. Not only does this expert give an overwhelming argument in support of its authenticity, but states with hard scientific evidence and argument why those who say the James inscription is a forgery have not only missed the mark, but absolutely and purposefully destroyed it to their own professional shame.

To read a summary of all this, see Biblical Archaeology Review's: Forgery Bombshell
To read the entire report in PDF, click here.
To see detailed pictures that accompany the report, click here.

This does not, however, mean that the James and Jesus mentioned thereon are the Biblical James and Jesus, but that is a likelihood that can now no longer be dismissed.

One of big problems I have with believing in the authenticity of things like this is that the ossuary was not found in situ. We have no idea where it came from and cannot trace its origins to any useful and meaningful degree outside of the object itself. I am heavily prejudiced against unprovenanced artifacts, but I believe this prejudice is necessary.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Which Parable-Saying?

What about all those conflicting parables and sayings in the Gospels? Don't they show us that what we have today preserved in the Bible is not reliable? Which one of the several versions of a parable or saying is the right one? How can we be certain Yeshua even said anything like them?

Yeshua was an itinerant prophet. He spoke a great deal of the time about the same sort of things using the same sort of language, but altering it slightly to better fit the context in which he spoke. For this reason, we shouldn't be confused by similar parables and sayings or worry about whether one is a more correct record than another. Likewise, we can be certain that Yeshua really said something like them if not exactly what is preserved.

The fact that the words we have of Yeshua are both similar and dissimilar act as confirmation of those words, not as a reason to doubt their integrity. If we had received several different books from different authors in different times that gave us exactly the same, word-for-word sayings and parables, this would beg the question. We would obviously be dealing with texts that had been heavily changed and edited to agree or harmonize with one another and could then doubt whether the sayings and parables presented in them were anything like the originals. However, if the only evidence we had contradicted itself at every point, we would be unable to determine which was closer to the truth and whether we even had any true information at all.

The dissimilarity of the parables and sayings is enough to tell us that we have them in an uncorrupted form, but their constant similarity despite their differences tells us we are, again, in contact with real, historical information. And both of these are evidence not that Yeshua said something once and we have many different interpretations of it, some which may be truer than others, but that Yeshua said the same thing many times in different circumstances and fit what he said into those circumstances. Thus, in their present form, the parables and sayings verify one another and can be considered reliable.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

A Theological Parable

On the left is a fish. On the right is a man. One day, the fish decided it wanted to kill the man and take his place on the Earth. It gathered a school about itself and went to war against the man, but the man overcame the fish and cast it and its school into the sea. Since that day, the fish has been constantly interferring in the plans of the man and leading his children to ruin and destruction. But the day will come when this fish and its school makes a final war on the man's children. It will be a tough and bloody war between the fish and the children, but the fish will finally see its end.

Do you believe that could happen?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Windows Pain

Dear Microsoft,

I loathe you and I hate your products. Don't expect another cent from me. The sooner you are out of my life, the better.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Godflesh, A Poem

by slaveofone

Entropy inversed, the deity in skin,
To show the way that we must go and cleanse us all within.
Frailty of birth, fragile at his death,
Immortal bod, eternal god, released his final breath.

How can one as you be bound within a mortal ball
When all of heaven can't contain a shadow of your all?
Yet one who sits enthroned within unapproachable light
Was sown of flesh, blood, and bone to walk among the night.
And thus He took upon himself the lowest of a form
And unto us a son of man and son of god is born!

Creator now creation, firstborn of the dead,
The incorruptible god of life corrupted by this bread.
Sovereignty besieged, omniscience turned aside,
What weapon forged within your realm could ever touch thy side?

Unless the one imperishable put on the perishable one,
The time of life for us is ended, the time for death is come.
Weep you child born of dust, to dust you will retire,
Yet him who overcomes this life, he never shall expire.
Keep what's written in the book for the time is near at hand
When god and man will meet and dance within the Promised Land.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Currently Reading...

"Methods of Studying the Patriarchal Narratives as Ancient Texts" by A.R. Millard

as taken from Essays on the Patriarchal Narratives edited by A.R. Millard & D.J. Wiseman

Scripture as Shakespeare?

We should laugh out of court anyone who approached Hamlet primarily with a view to improving his knowledge of Danish history, or Henry V as a source of knowledge of fifteenth-century England.
-- R.J. Coggins, “History and study in Old Testament study”, in Journal for the study of the OT
Coggins' argument is that just as we would not do this with Hamlet, therefore we ought not to approach Genesis that way either. Both are fictional texts that we should not turn to for factual historical information.

But Coggins' argument assumes that the historical events which Genesis refers to are irrelevant to Genesis' value. This is not the case. While Henry V and Hamlet do not appeal to factual history as the grounds for our response of belief, Genesis and those texts which cross-reference it do.

Take Isaiah 51:1-2 for instance:
Listen to me, you who pursue godliness, who seek the Lord! Look at the rock from which you were chiseled, at the quarry from which you were dug! Look at Abraham, your father, and Sarah, who gave you birth. When I summoned him, he was a lone individual, but I blessed him and gave him numerous descendants. (NET)
Isaiah appeals to the factuality of historical events to substantiate and base one's faith that YHWH will restore and bless his people today or tomorrow. If Abraham and Sarah did not factually exist and did not factually become the father and mother of many nations from an inability to do so, then Isaiah's appeal to trust in Yahweh to do so again with his people is worthless.

Genesis and the Old Testament texts therefore, as opposed to Hamlet and Henry V, appeal to factual historical events. If one choses to approach Genesis as they would Shakespeare, it is not because Shakespeare and Genesis ask the same response from us, but because we have accepted the former and rejected the latter.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

My Heretic Rating

You scored as Monarchianism. You are a Monarchian. You seek to retain monotheistic belief but in doing so abandon the idea of a triune God. God exists as the Father only, though he can reveal himself in other ways in a manner similar to modalism. Jesus is a man who is adopted into the Godhead and given divine status. Jehovah's Witnesses still hold to this belief.

















Chalcedon compliant












Are you a heretic?
created with

A number of these questions were very difficult to answer. I felt I was being boxed into ideas that I didn't agree with. And quite a few fundamental elements of my beliefs were entirely missing from the quiz.

I think it's funny that my theology can be classified as along the lines of Modalism even though I show up as 0% Modalist.

If anything, the quiz pegged me as anti-Trinitarian. I'm Monarchian in some ways, but not in others, which the quiz does not account for.

Movie Review - Girl, Interrupted

I've wanted to see this film since it first came out. What young adult male would pass up those dark, expressive, captivating eyes (Ryder) or that wide smile and the super-sized lips begging to be kissed (Jolie)? But Ryder was so thin and skeletal, I kept having flashbacks of Natalie Portman in V for Vendetta who looked like a starving Ethiopian (minus inflated stomach) or a sexless fetus. I know an emaciated look was important to the film and several of its characters, but it seemed obvious that the lighting crew, make-up artists, and other craftsmen only had to bring out what was (not) already there.

The acting was better than I anticipated and I enjoyed the cast. The characters were fun and our two leading ladies compelling. Although it had nothing that would split your sides, there were quite a few places that tickled the funny bone—including an unintentional bit of cinematic soothsaying at the opening in which Ryder apologetically recollects through interior monologue: “have you ever...stolen something when you had the cash?” And the structure of the film, broken and disjointed, shifting us through various moments of life, pulled us into Ryder's clouded, subjective world very effectively.

Unfortunately, the film wasn't complete—even with a few deleted scenes that should have been included to make better sense of different situations and characters. It seemed more like a series of events we followed which pretty much ended where it began and gave few answers. Since this was adapted from a novel which had no typical plot line structure, perhaps we can be a little forgiving.

It followed the theme of insanity and inability (or refusal) to grasp truth by giving conflicting perspectives. The film concludes with the idea that you should leave one world (the world of rebellion and the pursuit of dreams or fantasies) for the other (the world of control, decision, truth, and judgment), but this is questioned at several points. Maybe it's the doctors who are crazy and the patients sane. And what is freedom? Is it getting out of the institution and back into the world where you do as you are told or allowing yourself to experience life the way you want no matter what anyone else says or thinks? The rebellious and revolutionary make the wrong choices and therefore are mentally ill (yikes!), or perhaps we are all mentally ill to a greater or lesser extent. All these options are presented and none really refuted, clouding the overall message.

This is ultimately a morality tale. It made truth the doubled edged sword--the hinge on which the lives of people swung either to better or worse. The lives of the characters spiral from life to death as they deny or interrupt truth. It is not until they stop running from truth and face it that they break down and have a chance to change for the better. The “moment of truth” comes for Ryder with the death of her friend in which she faces truth and breaks down in the solace of her stalwart mentor. Jolie's moment comes from reading Ryder's diary about how various characters hide from the truth instead of facing it. When the rough and tough chick demands that she be uncovered as well, Ryder obliges and it is almost too much for Jolie to take. But we see in the final scenes that this is a turning point for her as well when she cries and admits the truth of her position to Ryder, saying “I'm not really dead.” So the truth not only saved and set free Ryder, but is on course to save and set free Jolie as well.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Anachronisms in Patriarchal History

In the patriarchal narratives, there are a plethora of anomalies--textual details which do not fit in the world or time represented in the narrative of the text. These anomalies help date the final form of the text. But sometimes, they do much more. Sometimes, they prefigure the historical context of the text's final form and point to an earlier tradition.

An example of the first is the classic reference to Abraham's origins in “Ur of the Chaldeans” (Gen 11:28, 31; 15:7)

Historically speaking, the Chaldeans didn't exist anywhere near Abraham's time (if we follow the Biblical age records to any degree at all). They do not show up until the first century BC—about a millennium after Abraham (if Abraham truly is a historical figure). But the text is obviously at a point where it uses the phrase “Ur of the Chaldeans” quite naturally. We can therefore be confident that Genesis came to its final form sometime in the first century when Chaldeans not only existed, but the phrase could be accepted and widespread.

An example of the second is the classic reference to the patriarchs as “wandering Arameans” (Deut 26:5). This verse was a defining aspect of Israelite identity and probably spoken often like it is today.

However, in the first century, the Arameans were bitter enemies of Israel. For Israel to announce and identify herself such is about as likely as citizens of the US proclaiming Germany their true motherland during the reign of Hitler. We are forced to move back in time before Israel's existence gathered national enemies against her in order to make sense of this common identity. We thus have evidence of a much earlier tradition of the textual narrative (perhaps in its oral form) which can be taken back into the second century...maybe not to the patriarchs themselves, but within reach of the exodus and Moses.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Moral-Ethical Mind-Games

To read a wonderful article about philosophy, morals, and ethics in which several "no win" situations are presented and you are asked how you would respond, go here: What If...

I answered:
1. No. 2. No. 3. No. 4. No.

Keep in mind that the questions are "should" you do such and such, not "would" you. "Should" indicates a moral imperative-i.e., duty, obligation, requirement, responsibility. "Would" indicates personal choice.

Would I?
1. Yes. 2. No. 3. No. 4. No.

My explanations (spoilers):

Whereas I have no right to sacrifice someone else's life to save another's, I have every right to sacrifice myself. And being a follower of Yeshua, I would. However, being hooked up to another person against my will and choice to have him feed off my life would be a major violation of my rights. After helping the man get healed, I would probably kick the doctor very very hard in the balls, give him a hearty fuck you, and hope he doesn't have someone to hook himself up to to take away the pain.

Every life is infinitely valuable, therefore one more or one less neither adds to nor subtracts from the value of life. A single person's life is just as worthy and just as valuable as 60,000 lives. So the question "Can it ever be morally acceptable to kill an innocent person if that is the only way to save many?" is a resounding no. This doesn't mean if we have the opportunity to save more than one life we shouldn't take it, only that if it comes down to saving many at the expense of one, the many have nothing over the one--the one has every right to live that the many do. The difference between taking the one's life to save the many and letting the many die instead of taking the one's life is the difference between committing murder and being helpless to prevent others from being killed.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Temple Mount Signs 3

Ancient days...

No foreigner shall enter within the balustrade of the Temple or within the precinct, and whosoever shall be caught shall be responsible for (his) death that will follow in consequence.
--from the Second Temple, 1st Century BC

When you go through these [first] cloisters, unto the second [court of the] temple, there was a partition made of stone all round, whose height was three cubits: its construction was very elegant; upon it stood pillars, at equal distances from one another, declaring the law of purity, some in Greek, and some in Roman [Latin] letters, that no foreigner should go within that sanctuary for that second [court of the] temple was called the Sanctuary...
--Josephus, Jewish War, 5.5.2

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Gasoline Prices

Nothing is more permanent than a temporary tax.

Part of what drives up gasoline prices are government taxes. 18.4 cents of every gallon in the U.S. goes directly to the government. Who is being charged these taxes? Average citizens or the gasoline and oil companies? Do you think the gasoline and oil companies are paying any of those taxes? You should know better.

When the tax first began in the early 1900s, it was a "temporary" tax of one cent a gallon. But the tax stayed and increased every decade. The gas tax is not the only temporary tax that has remained and increased exponentially over time...

There is a rule that Libertarians live by and which economics and history shows to be true: the more government is involved, the worse things get. The best thing would be to stop all gas taxes. This would dramatically reduce the price people pay at the pump, put more money into the pockets of the poor, place more money into the economy, enable people to afford better or more services, which makes more jobs, and decrease the load and burden on the government which will then tax less (if forced) since it is not being pressured to do something to correct an error which is being corrected automatically in a free and open market.

The charge of "price gouging" is a myth.

Companies always charge as much money as the market can bear in order to make a profit. The market is determined by supply and demand. The less supply and more demand, the higher the price. If you want to affect a decline in price, you have to either: 1. increase supply or 2. decrease demand.

You are not powerless. You vote every time you spend money and how you spend your money. When you buy large quantities of gasoline when the price is high, you are voting that the high price in the market is acceptable and agreeable. If you decrease your demand and buy less gas, you tell the companies it is unacceptable and are voting for a decrease. The more Americans do this, the bigger the vote, the less demand, the more the prices will drop and the more gas and oil companies will realize the extend to which they can charge for their products.

I am biking to work instead of driving every other day from now on to vote against these high prices. From now on, I can blame you for high prices, but you cannot blame me or the companies--unless you join me.

Temple Mount Signs 2

Earlier times...

Entrance to the area of the Temple Mount is forbidden to everyone by Jewish law owing to the sacredness of the place.
--The Chief Rabbinate of Israel

Monday, May 01, 2006

A City of the Plain?

Another deus blog (no pun intended), Deus Artefacta, has a article mentioning an archaeological site that some people are saying may be the biblical site of Sodom. What I've read so far seems a bit sketchy... We may have one of the "cities of the plain" in the Valley of Siddim [usually grouped together in scripture as Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Zoar], but so far I see no archaeological reason to identify Tall el-Hammam as Sodom. However, excavation has just begun. Let us see what the earth unveils.

Read the article "Sodom & Gomorrah" or see pictures of the site here and here.